Friends, Realm-mates, Countrymen – Friday, September 22, 2017
This week, we have a special update for the Beta 1 document, so special that we decided to take extra time to release it! Chapter 15 contains ideas and inspiration born of our years of game experience and development, gestating since our Kickstarter. Mark provided the original vision for these systems, and JB stepped in to lead the design effort, with help from Ben and others. We believe you will find these grouping and social systems as interesting and exciting as we do. We’re looking to facilitate everything from solo play to the coordinated mass attacks that will make Camelot Unchained a truly magnificent experience for all play-styles.
One of the most important parts of any MMO are the social aspects. We’re taking great care with this part of Camelot Unchained: It’s vital that we stay true to our old-school beliefs, yet also look for new ways to improve player experiences with grouping systems. We believe our approach will be one of the most useful and deepest systems of its kind, and we enthusiastically invite you to take a deep dive into our design, with this week’s Beta 1 Doc update, “Social Systems and Grouping!”
Special thanks to our translators for working twice as fast on a text that was 2.5 times as long as our usual Beta 1 doc updates! You folks are truly amazing.
During today’s livestream, JB and Mark both sat in for a lengthy Q&A with our audience, to answer questions about this update. There were a lot of great questions, and it was quite lively! There was even an amazing gift-opening afterward! You can watch the stream HERE.
Monday, Massively Overpowered will have a special interview with Mark, answering a plethora of questions from them! Keep an eye out for that, and in the meantime, head over to their site and check out their excellent coverage in the MMO space.
Last week, we had a hearty–dare I say robust–Top Tenish. We continue that trend this week, with a whopping seventeen items! It might be our longest so far!
- WIP – Tech – Siege Battles: We’ve said we’re focused on a “sprint” right now, in order to deliver on the early version of full siege battles. This focus is a culmination of the team’s hard work on our engine’s ability to handle a scale of battles unheard-of in modern MMOs. We’re currently working on turning engine tech testing into testing the tech with some fun gameplay. We’re being purposefully coy at this point, and will reveal more as we get further along in Alpha.
- WIP – Tech – NPCs: Colin has been wrapping up the first-pass functionality to get NPCs to have behaviors, specifically to locate an empty siege engine and begin using it to fire at players. What could we possibly use this tech for? 😉
- WIP – Tech – DevUI: In order to iterate faster on this sprint’s goals, JB created a temporary UI that allows the gameplay team to put some data on the screen without needing to know all the ins and outs of our UI system. We’re separating markup (the stuff that makes it pretty) from actual data, so we can quickly come in later and implement a real, polished UI after we’ve had a chance to iterate on features.
- WIP – Tech – Progression: Christina continues to build support for different events and the rewards they provide to the player at the end of the game’s “day.” This will now include tracking the blocks a player creates and destroys. Additionally, we will reuse our new ability system to support applying effects to the player at the point of leveling a component.
- Tech – Starting Ability Support: This gives us the ability to have pre-loaded abilities on a player’s ability bar so we can auto-assign abilities to characters when they are first created, which will be very important for ease of testing moving forward. We prioritized this task, as it made some work with emotes easier. Speaking of which…
- WIP – Tech – Emotes: As our proof-of-concept, newly created characters currently begin with a /wave command on their ability bar. Setting up emotes like this allows us to reuse ability tech. Eventually, these will just be hidden from the ability builder, and will instead be called using slash commands, such as /dance and /sit. These will also have a text output in the combat log, such as “Brittany waves to Tyler,” if another player is targeted. Once we can see the animations working, we’ll take a polish pass on those assets.
- Tech/Design – Social Groups Design: Per last week’s update, we delayed the release of this chapter of the Beta 1 documentation so JB, Ben, and Mark could provide a greater level of information this week. This update is currently available to everyone through our website, HERE. Further implementation of this work will be handed to Gabe, with AJ assisting, to free JB up for other UI needs.
- WIP – Art – Updated archery animations: Sandra, Ben, Mike, and Tyler have put their heads together to give the bow abilities some love, which will facilitate testing new features from Andrew, as well as an experimental, different approach to animations using static timings. Sandra has completed a rough-pass of basic shortbow animations and is currently working on longbow variations. Catch Michelle’s stream this coming Monday (September 22nd), where she’ll be concepting long and short bows for each of the three Realms (previously Arthurians only had longbows, and the other two Realms only had short).
- Art – Weapon LODs: Tyler completed LODs for the arrows this week, as well as a couple of additional weapons. You can catch his relevant stream HERE, which also includes a bit of environment work.
- WIP – Art – Static Timing Animation Testing: Per last week’s update, Scott began working with Tyler and Ben to try an alternative method of improving the look of our melee weapon attacks. These new attacks use a static timing–provided by Ben–of a standard, slow, and fast attack. Each swing is different, not only with better timing, but also a much better visual indication of the intended speed of the attack, while maintaining their intent to be a mid (middle of the body) attack. (The previous iteration used the ability system to speed or slow parts of a shared animation.)
- WIP – Art – Updated Weapon Animations: Between other animation tasks, Scott has been working to update the long overdue one-handed mace, axe, sword, and shield animations in the game. All characters should be updated soon.
- WIP – Art – Updated Terrain Mods: Tyler and Dionne completed several updated terrain mods this week, as part of ongoing work to improve the speed of zone creation, improve art direction visibility for Realm variation, and give more visual variation moving forward. This work is also important to test Brad’s recent performance improvements to terrain updates.
- WIP – Art – Updated Character Creation UI: James and AJ have been busy this week, updating the character creation UI. The current focus is not only on the animated backgrounds, but also on the stats page functionality, Banes and Boons screen, progress indicator, summary screen, as well as a help button.
- WIP – Art – Updated Character Model Investigation: As part of our ongoing development, Jon spent some time this week looking at the low poly topology of our characters heads, and how they could be improved. This also includes some work on unique looks and updated material work.
- WIP – Art – Quivers: Not to be left out of the improvements for archers, Jon has created three high poly models for Realm-specific quivers. These will get a material pass next week.
- WIP – Art – Realm Portal VFX: While waiting for updated components from Ben for the scorpion siege engine and Archers, Mike dug into his backlog and created VFX for the Viking portal marker, based off Michelle’s concept art.
- Art – Concept Art: Michelle has continued work on new ideas for character creation. She has also continued work on various Realm-specific boat concepts. You can check all of these out below!
What a list of highlights, right? We’re proud of our progress.
We start this week’s artwork off with animation. Last week, I promised that we’d have a video of some of Scott’s work on the greatsword attacks, with static timing, and not just an image. Remember these are still a WIP, and will get more love next week.
As mentioned in the Top Tenish, Sandra has been working with the static timings as well, for bow animations. We’ll get you all a video of those when they are ready!
Moving on, we have some updates to our character’s heads that Jon has cranked out this week. Special thanks to Jon, who turned his enthusiasm over this task into some late hours, going beyond the initial task. The first image shows the topology change, where Jon focused on better use of our polys for definition where we need it, instead of relying on normal maps as we did with the old version. And again, remember these are still works in progress, as we explore this improvement. (The geometry is also untriangulated and hard-edged, so expect a softer look than this in-game.)
We’ve also got some high poly quiver models from Jon, which he began working on yesterday. These will pair up nicely with Andrew’s tech to support using ammunition, such as arrows, in the ability’s animations. In the image from left to right, the first is Arthurian, second TDD, and third Viking.
That wraps up the week here at CSE. Things keep getting better, we keep working hard, and we continue to appreciate you, our Backers and supporters. We hope you all have a great weekend!
P.S. For those of you haven’t yet seen our End-of-Week Wrap-Up live stream today, you will see one of the most epic unboxings in our studio’s history. Max tore open a massive box to reveal an absolutely amazing gift from one of our Backers, called Necromaniak. We are truly humbled by your gift and your words, Necro! I thought Max was going to break down at one point. Check out the image below of Necromaniak’s hand-sculpted, hand-painted, hand-mounted dragon skull. Thank you, from all of us.